ONR Seeks ‘Green’ Concepts for Shipboard Desalination and New Energy Efficiencies

Office of Naval Research
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Arlington, Va., 22203-1771
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For Immediate Release: April 22, 2011

By Geoff Fein, Office of Naval Research

ARLINGTON, Va. —To deliver more fresh water to Sailors underway with more efficient shipboard technologies, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) released an announcement seeking industry ideas by May 2.

Outlined in ONR Broad Agency Announcement 11-010, titled Demonstration System Development for the Advanced Shipboard Desalination Future Naval Capability (FNC), the initiative aims to increase fresh water production by more than 65 percent while reducing energy use per gallon of water by 65 percent—all in the same space or footprint of current systems.

White papers are due no later than 4 p.m., May 2, with full proposals due by 4 p.m., June 15. ONR anticipates that more than one contract award will result from this solicitation.

Desalination, or salt removal, is required not only to purify water for human consumption, but also to protect sensitive shipboard areas from saltwater corrosion. Since the early 1990s, most classes of Navy ships in construction have employed reverse osmosis as the preferred potable water system technology.

“Improvements in systems, and new technologies to recover energy from the pressurized waste brine, have made reverse osmosis significantly more efficient than distillation processes,” said Dr. Paul Armistead, ONR’s functional polymeric/organic materials program officer. “Currently, reverse osmosis is the most common method of desalting seawater for potable water use.”

The increased energy efficiency for desalination makes the process “green,” he added, as well as more cost effective than distillation.

“The expense resides primarily in the cost of the plant, and in the energy used to heat the water in distillation facilities or pressurize the water in reverse osmosis sites.”

The FNC program is targeting compact, low-energy and low-maintenance desalination technologies to meet the challenges and demands of naval operations. Advanced shipboard-ready demonstration systems should be capable of operating at 99 percent availability over a six-month ship deployment.

ONR released an announcement in 2009 with the goal of maturing near-term technologies to address shipboard operational constraints. In March, ONR initiated the second phase of the effort by issuing announcement 11-010. Proposal requirements and details of the associated industry day can be found in the Contracts and Grants section of ONR’s website.

In addition to advancing desalination techniques, the Navy is also set to begin the demonstration of a low-energy structure that will simplify incorporating alternative power solutions. 

Selected in fiscal year 2009, a structure at Illima Middle School, Oahu, Hawaii, will serve as the first test platform. The Navy will use the building to study the effectiveness of energy-neutral modeling and structural design coupled with advanced solar solutions. Results of the trial will provide data for similar projects at Department of Defense facilities and buildings constructed for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance operations.

ONR partnered with the Hawaii Natural Energy Institute at the University of Hawaii, the Hawaii Department of Education, and “smart building” developer Project Frog on the program.

The state also provides the backdrop for ONR’s studies of hydrogen fuel cells to power vehicles and, separately, a hydrogen generation and fueling station. Both efforts are underway at Marine Corps Base Hawaii and other installations on Oahu.

ONR will evaluate the long-term performance of hydrogen fuel cells for non-tactical car and truck propulsion as well as power generation. The research is a collaborative effort among ONR, the Army’s Tank and Automotive Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory.

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About the Office of Naval Research

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

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Office of Naval Research
Corporate Strategic Communications
875 N. Randolph St., #1225-D
Arlington, Va., 22203-1771
Office: (703) 696-5031
Fax: (703) 696-5940
E-mail: onrcsc@onr.navy.mil
Web: www.onr.navy.mil
Facebook: www.facebook.com/officeofnavalresearch

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